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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals regarding its ruling on the law of the case doctrine but affirmed its judgment regarding its rulings on the admission of certain strip search evidence and Defendant’s conviction for possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. Defendant was indicted for possession with the intent to distribute. Prior to trial, Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence from a strip search. The circuit court granted the motion to suppress the evidence recovered from the strip search on the grounds that it violated Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. The court of appeals reversed the grant of the motion to suppress. After Defendant was convicted, he appealed. The court of appeals concluded (1) its review of its ruling on the motion to suppress and the constitutionality of the strip search was precluded by the law of the case doctrine; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to uphold Defendant’s conviction. Although the Supreme Court held (1) the court of appeals was authorized to reconsider the constitutionality of the strip search and the admissibility of the strip search evidence on direct appeal; and (2) the court of appeals’ did not err in its rulings on the admission of the strip search evidence and Defendant’s conviction. View "Cole v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erred in relying on principles of res judicata to refuse to stay an injunction brought by the City of Staunton’s Zoning Administrator against the landowner in this case pending further proceedings before the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals and erred in granting the injunction against the landowner. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court as to the stay and the injunctive relief sought, holding (1) the doctrine of res judicata that the circuit court relied on was not a proper basis to deny the stay based on prior administrative or circuit court proceedings; and (2) as a result, the final order granting an injunction, when the landowner had not been given the opportunity to exhaust her administrative remedies, was in error. View "Chilton-Belloni v. Angle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court ruling that the Commissioner of Accounts had subject matter jurisdiction to hear a petition for aid and direction initially filed with the Commissioner seeking construction of the decedent’s will and the determination of his heirs. The court held (1) Appellant had standing to bring this appeal because the circuit court could potentially determine that he was a beneficiary of the will on remand, and Rule 5:25 also did not bar this appeal because challenges to subject matter jurisdiction can be raised at any time; and (2) the Commissioner did not exceed his authority when he, without a referral from the circuit court, conducted a hearing and produced a report interpreting the decedent’s will and determining his heirs. View "Gray v. Binder" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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Contrary to the conclusions of the lower courts in this divorce case, Richard Levick’s marriage to Deborah MacDougall was not voidable or void ab initio, and therefore, the circuit court had authority to distribute the marital assets consistent with the marital agreement and to continue its adjudication of the divorce proceeding. During a divorce proceeding ten years after the marriage of the parties, Levick asserted for the first time that his marriage to MacDougall was void ab initio, and therefore, he could repudiate a marital agreement requiring him to pay spousal support and to distribute the marital assets. The circuit court agreed and ruled that the marriage was void ab initio. The court of appeals reversed in part, concluding that the marriage was merely voidable, not void ab initio. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Levick failed to rebut the strong presumption favoring the validity of his marriage. View "Levick v. MacDougall" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court sustaining a demurrer filed by the Commissioner of Highways in his capacity as chief executive officer of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in this action filed by Plaintiff seeking to compel the Commissioner to reconvey property pursuant to Va. Code 33.2-1005(A). The VDOT acquired the property in 1994 in advance of a transportation project. A 1993 appraisal valued the land at $286,110. In 2014, Plaintiff informed the VDOT that he was exercising the right under section 33.2-1005(A) to require VDOT to reconvey the land “for its original purchase price” of $286,110, as the transportation project had not commenced within twenty years. The circuit court concluded that it did not have the authority to insert a purchase price of $286,110 based on the appraisal where the wording of the general assembly was “original purchase price.” The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that an appraisal valuation is not synonymous with “original purchase price” as used in section 33.2-1005(A). View "Kalergis v. Virginia Commissioner of Highways" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded the judgment of the circuit court dismissing La Bella Dona Skin Care, Inc.’s (LBD) civil conspiracy claims, granting summary judgment on LBD’s claim for fraudulent conveyance, and applying a clear and convincing standard of proof to LBD’s mere continuation theory of successor liability. LBD filed this complaint against eleven defendants seeking damages and injunctive relief as a result of Defendants’ involvement in a series of allegedly fraudulent conveyances designed to avoid an outstanding judgment in favor of LBD. The court held that the circuit court (1) did not err when it dismissed LBD’s civil conspiracy claims on demurrer where a fraudulent conveyance under Va. Code 55-80 cannot serve as the predicate unlawful act needed to support a claim for statutory or common law conspiracy; (2) erred in dismissing LBD’s fraudulent conveyance claim on summary judgment where a prima facie case of fraudulent conveyance may be established when the recipient is a third party creditor with a higher security interest; and (3) erred by applying a clear and convincing standard of proof to LBD’s mere continuation theory of successor liability. View "La Bella Dona Skin Care, Inc. v. Belle Femme Enterprises" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, which vacated Defendant’s sentence for DUI, third offense, and remanded the case to the trial court for sentencing on DUI, second offense. The court of appeals determined that the Commonwealth was collaterally estopped from using a valid DUI conviction as a predicate offense for sentencing enhancement because, in an unrelated case, a general district court previously ruled that the Commonwealth could not use the same DUI conviction as a predicate offense for sentencing enhancement. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and reinstated the trial court’s order of conviction on DUI, third or subsequent offense, holding that the court of appeals erred in concluding that the doctrine of collateral estoppel applied to preclude the Commonwealth from using the DUI conviction at issue as a predicate offense. View "Commonwealth v. Leonard" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s action seeking to recover attorney fees she incurred in defending a prior action. The trial court concluded that Rule 3:25 precluded Plaintiff from requesting attorney fees because she failed to request such fees in the underlying litigation. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) Rule 3:25(B) required Plaintiff to make a demand for attorney fees in the underlying litigation; and (2) because Plaintiff did not make such a demand, under the express language of Rule 3:25(C), Plaintiff waived any claim for such fees. View "Graham v. Community Management Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court insofar as it imposed a sentence upon Defendant exceeding the punishment authorized by the General Assembly in Va. Code 18.2-53.1. Graves was convicted of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, in violation of Va. Code 18.2-53.1, among other crimes. The circuit court sentenced Defendant to five years’ imprisonment with two years suspended for the crime of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court sentenced him in excess of the statutory maximum. The Supreme Court agreed and vacated the two-year suspended sentence and remanded the case for entry of a new sentencing order, holding that the sentence exceeded the punishment authorized by the General Assembly in section 18.2-53.1. View "Graves v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court concluding that McKinley Chiropractic Center, P.C. (McKinley) was entitled to judgment against Erie Insurance Company (Erie). Devonta Dodson was involved in a motor vehicle collision with Joann Hutson. Erie insured Hutson with liability coverage under an automobile insurance company. Dodson, who sought chiropractic care for her injuries arising from the collision, executed a document assigning to McKinley all insurance and/or litigation proceeds to which she may be entitled and all causes of action she might have against Erie. Dodson subsequently accepted $7,300 from Erie in return for Dodson’s agreement to release both Hutson and Erie from causes of action arising from the claimed legal liability of Hutson and Erie arising out of the accident. McKinley subsequently filed a warrant in debt against Erie. The district court rendered judgment for the chiropractic services provided to Dodson. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, as a matter of law, McKinley did not have a right to sue Erie. View "Erie Insurance Co. v. McKinley Chiropractic Center, P.C." on Justia Law